A Nest of Robins – From Blue Eggs to Flight

We have an arch in our backyard that not only graciously supports our roses, it has repeatedly been the nesting site for a family of Robins.  (The arch also supported the beginning of our own family when it served as a focal point during our wedding ceremony!)   That tradition continued this past May/June as Mama and Daddy Robin set up a nest and nurtured their babies there once again.  This year, during the nestling stage, I documented the growth and changes of the baby robins every day.  Here’s their journey from egg to flight.

Three Robin Eggs

Robin eggs are laid in the nest and incubated for about 14 days by the Mama Robin. In this brood we had three eggs. The nest is made of grasses, twigs, and other “found” items – like the piece of Easter Grass that you see here.

Robins - Day 1

Day 1 – Two of the babies hatched earlier than the last and the chicks only have patches of white downy feathers.

Robins - Day 2

Day 2 – All the Chicks are born.

Robins - Day 3

Day 3 – The chicks still have their eyes closed, but their mouths are starting to open for feedings and a darkness for future feathers is developing.

Robins - Day 4

Day 4 – The chicks are clearly growing larger and moving to fit better in the nest. Their future tails are becoming more distinct.

Robins - Day 5

Day 5 – Feathers are beginning to emerge from the skin.

Robins - Day 6

Day 6 – Although eyes are still closed, the chicks sense my movement near the nest and automatically open their hungry mouths hoping for food.

Robins - Day 7

Day 7 – Feathers continue to emerge and eyes have begun to open.

Robins - Day 8

Day 8 – Chicks are growing fast and getting hungrier by the day. Mama and Daddy are being kept very busy!

Robins - Day 9

Day 9 – The chicks are almost completely covered in feathers now.

Robins - Day 10

Day 10 – Each chick has grown so much they almost don’t fit in the nest anymore. The chicks must adjust their wings to nestle together.

Robins - Day 11

Day 11 – Feathers fan out and downy fuzz is becoming less prominent. Nest is at full capacity and crowding is starting to be an issue.

Robins - Day 12

Day 12 – The speckled chest coloration is formed and visible when the chicks stretch their necks high to meet Mama or Daddy with their food.

Robins - Day 13

Day 13 – Chicks must sit up near the edge of the nest to fit.

Robins - Day 14

Day 14 – Rainy day or not, nest crowding reaches a breaking point. Seconds after this photo was taken the bird on the top right flies from the nest. His two fellow nestlings leave within the next few hours, one at a time.

Mama Robin sticks close to the fledgling chicks for the nest week or so, still feeding them and protecting them from the dangers of the open yard.  25% of Robin chicks will survive their first year.

I have since seen at least one of the Robin chicks return to our yard regularly.  He still sports the speckled chest, but it’s getting redder every time I see him.  Mama has returned to our yard to next for a second time this season and is currently incubating a two egg brood.  This time she built a nest in our two year old tree right next to the arch – an exciting  first for our baby tree!